Happy and Healthy Holidays: How to Have a Great Holiday and Stay Fit at the Same Time!


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – The holiday season has arrived! I know I love the parties, family, and friends that make this one of the most fun times of the year.  That said, sometimes it’s hard enough to eat right and exercise under normal circumstances.  When you add holidays to the mix, many of us find exercise and a healthy diet going out the window. Let’s face it, very few of us keep up with our diet and exercise regimens perfectly while traveling and staying with family. At the same time, staying active and trying to maintain a healthier diet will give you energy, help reduce stress, and of course, help burn off some of the extra calories you may be eating.

How do I recommend you find that balance? Here are some simple things you can do/keep in mind to stay on track during this time of year.

Be the awesome guest!

  • Offer to bring things to the feast. (You don’t have to tell the hosts it’s undercover health food.)
  • Help out in the kitchen and survey what is going to be served in advance.  That way, you can make a game plan of what’s a definite “must” and what’s kind of “meh.”  You won’t be crazy about everything that’s going to be served so save calories accordingly.
  • Play with the kids!  I take my niece and nephews sledding and they love it.  It’s a great hill/speed workout for you as well.  Plus, a 150 lb man will burn 468 calories an hour sledding.
  • If you are staying over, do chores.  You will be the host/hostess hero and get a great workout in simultaneously.  Here’s how many calories you would burn doing the following chores if you were a 150 lb man: shoveling snow for an hour: 414, heavy housework for an hour: 198, cooking for an hour: 180, walking the dog for an hour: 189.

Create new, fun and active traditions

Everyone’s family does things a little different on the holidays.  These differences can be stressful, or conversely, serve as an opportunity to create new ways to have fun together.

  • Find a new hiking or cross-country skiing trail for everyone to try.
  • Register for a race in the area you are visiting.  Most towns have holiday-themed 5k or 10k races. Registering as a family is a great way to get out and celebrate in a positive manner.
  • Most towns have an area that is decked out for the holidays.  Find out where that is and going walking and site-seeing together.

Sneak in your healthy habits when no one is looking! 

Not everyone is an exerciser, and some people do not react well to you wanting to get your workout done.  Here are some things you can do to avoid rocking the boat while sticking to your plan.

  • Drink water!  Studies show people often confuse dehydration with hunger.
  • Carry healthy snacks with you and eat them before you arrive at the party starving. (i.e. apples, low-fat granola, a handful of almonds)
  • Resistance band workouts can be very challenging and are very portable.
  • Bring your favorite fitness DVD with you.
  • Wake up early! Most people sleep in during the holidays;I hit the running path. You will be surprised to see how many people are out there on Christmas morning.
  • Body-weight circuits in the yard or a local park work very well.

Moderation and reframing expectations! 

As fun as the holidays are, they can be stressful.  Families grow in different directions and as much as you love them, you may not all be on the same page.  Here are some suggestions to help manage stress.

  • Drink moderately.  I try to drink at least a large glass of water for every alcoholic beverage.  You will become too full to drink more.
  • Accept food graciously.  Every family has the food pusher.   Accepting his/her offering doesn’t mean you must actually eat it.   At the same time, do not tell him/her that what they are offering is bad, unhealthy, etc.  No one likes the food police.
  • Thanksgiving is one meal.  If you eat too much, hit the reset button.  Do not spend the rest of your time regretting it.

Finally, the best gift you can give yourself and your family is the gift of your company. 

You will probably not eat or exercise how you normally do but this is not the end of the world!  Try to be active but do not be blind to the opportunities you have to see and enjoy your loved ones.  Even the Kenyans take down time so when they start gearing up for their next big race they are refreshed.  In parting, I would like to wish you all a great, joyous holiday season!

If you’d like to speak to an Athletico Physical Therapist, request an appointment here at a clinic near you.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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